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News in brief: 03 January 2013

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News in brief: 03 January 2013

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News in brief: 03 January 2013

Country/Region: Africa, Middle East and North Africa, South and East Asia, Tanzania, Iran, Syria, Libya, Indonesia

Tanzania: church leader injured in Christmas Day shooting by suspected Islamists

A church leader was critically wounded in a Christmas Day shooting by suspected Islamist separatists in Zanzibar.

The Rev. Ambrose Mkenda was shot in the face and shoulder by two attackers on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as the church leader returned to his home in Tomondo just before 8pm. He was rushed to hospital and later transferred to intensive care as his condition deteriorated.

UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation), an Islamist separatist group that wants semi-autonomous Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania, is suspected of carrying out the attack.

The group distributed leaflets threatening church leaders in Zanzibar in October following attacks on several churches.   

Source: Morning Star News

Iran: 50 Christians arrested at house church gathering

Around 50 Christians, mostly converts from Islam, were arrested at a house church Christmas gathering in Tehran.

The raid by 15 police and security agents happened on 27 December. The Christians had to hand over their mobile phones and personal information, including passwords to their email and social media accounts, and explain how they had come to accept Christianity. The majority were released after being interrogated, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, who has chronic kidney disease for which he requires dialysis, was detained. He has been taken to hospital by prison guards to receive his treatment.

The Islamic regime generally intensifies its campaign against Christians over the Christmas period.

Indonesia: rotten eggs, dung and urine thrown at congregation during Christmas Eve event

Members of Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) came under attack by Muslims as they gathered in the open for a Christmas Eve service.

The assailants threw rotten eggs, dung and plastic bags full of urine at the congregation of around 200 people. HKBP had been subjected to a similar assault in May.

On Christmas Eve, the congregation gathered for a service in front of its property in Bekasi, West Java, which has been sealed off by the authorities. It was forced to flee and hold the service in the compound of a police station.

HKBP has been denied a building permit despite a Supreme Court ruling that one be granted and the site reopened.

Syria: Christian man kidnapped and beheaded by rebels

A 38-year-old Christian man was kidnapped and beheaded by opposition fighters in Syria.

A respected Christian figure reported the brutal murder of Andrei Arbashe, which happened in the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn. He had recently married, and his wife is pregnant.

Andrei was kidnapped after his brother was heard criticising the behaviour of the rebels. His body was found by a roadside, surrounded by hungry dogs.

In November, the Syrian opposition attacked Ras Al-Ayn, entered the Christian quarter and ordered residents to leave; more than 200 families were driven out.

Libya: Two church workers killed in bombing of Egyptian church building

Two church workers were killed in the bombing of a building belonging to an Egyptian church in Libya.

The incident in Dafniya, near Misrata, on Sunday (30 December) was the first major assault on a Christian target in Libya since the revolution.

Expatriates from Egypt and other African countries along with Europeans comprise the overwhelming majority of the small Christian community in Libya.

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    • Cry out to the Lord for Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47-year-old Christian minister from India who was abducted in Afghanistan on 2 June. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but three Taliban militants have been arrested in connection with it. Alexis had worked for an NGO in Afghanistan since 2011, helping returning refugees. He was leaving a school near Herat for Afghan children who have recently returned from Iran or Pakistan when he was seized. Give thanks for Alexis’ willingness to serve the Lord in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and pray for his safe return. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

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